Dog Food Aggression
Food aggression in dogs is fairly common, and it is a frightening problem most people simply don’t understand! We giggle and laugh when we see the dog on video who bites his own foot as it creeps closer and closer to his food bowl or chewy. However, dog food aggression and resource guarding is not funny and can and does lead to serious bites and injury! This behavior will not go away on its own!
Often people don’t deal with this problem until they are forced to, they assume that it is normal for their dog to stiffen, glare, growl, snarl and position himself between you and his food bowl. They simply vow never to enter the same room or the space when their dog is eating. But, resource guarding often escalates and becomes totally unrealistic as it leads to other items in the house.
One day your dog might just be guarding his food, but as he is successful at keeping you away, it often escalates to his chewies, his toys, his bed, YOUR bed, or even food that you are cooking for the family.
I shudder to think what would happen if a dog like this stole a 4 year old’s Barbie and was chased down by the child! At this point, when the dog begins to guard more items or after there has been a bite incident the owner realizes that the problem is out of control, but waiting too long makes it more difficult to change!
Puppy Food Aggression
This is the easiest to treat and cure. If your puppy snatches items and runs and hides them from you, growls at you when you try to take them, or growls at you over food or chewies, you must take this behavior seriously and deal with it early. This behavior is NOT normal, but can be almost totally resolved if it is dealt with early enough and behavior modification is consistently applied.
Dog To Dog Food Aggression
This can also be a problem. The good news about dog aggression is it is usually not transferable, meaning that if your dog is aggressive toward other dogs or cats while eating it does not necessarily mean he will be aggressive with you. Vice versa is also true. And, although this is good news, aggression is never okay! Food aggression with other animals must also be dealt with, or it may lead to fights or even a fatality. Animals must be separated if they cannot be controlled!
Stopping Dog Food Aggression
This is possible if positive training techniques are employed. But enlisting negative training techniques like punishment, leash corrections, and physical control often leads to bites and heightened aggression. Never use aggression to treat aggression even if you are successful in changing how your dog reacts to you around his bowl, he may not feel the same if a toddler wanders by!
Safety is the most important component to ensure you, or your other dogs or animals do not get bitten. You must teach him how to act and react when he has something he finds valuable, by teaching him good behaviors and therefore being able to reward them. Positive reinforcement training teaches your dog that if he does what you want, by leaving the object in question or maintaining good nonthreatening behaviors, he will be rewarded with a much more spectacular incentive. He realizes that good behavior is the key to everything he wants in life.
This type of training along with all kinds of aggression rehabilitation requires a high level of obedience training. As daunting as obedience training sounds now, it is the key to good behaviors and bonding with your dog. Obedience should not be seen as something negative or something to just be accomplished for a short period of time. Dog training and especially rehabilitation and behavior modification is a lifestyle and can be lots of fun for both dog and owner as you learn to work together toward what is becoming a common goal! For more information on dog food aggression check out this post!